January 2018 Newsletter
Welcome to the first quarterly society newsletter for 2018. As usual the society news comes first and news from other local organisations follow and finally national eye sight related news.
New Constitution: The society’s new constitution is now fully in place and has the ratification from the Charities Commission.
New Vision Walls Launch and Sight Loss Open Day: It’s taken over a year to arrange the funding and to revamp our show area, but at last it’s complete. Our sincere thanks go to the National Lottery, for the funding that made the project possible. You are therefore invited to the informal launch of the New Vision Walls project and our second Sight Loss Open Day in partnership with Optelec represented by Mark Silver. The event runs from 10am to 2pm on Tuesday 13 February so just drop in, there’s plenty of car parking. Light refreshments will be available and we are wheelchair and doggy friendly. Blackburn and District Blind Society, Cobham House, Wilkinson Way off Haslingden Road, Blackburn, BB1 2EE, 01254 698683.
Talking Magazine: The society’s talking magazine applied to be evaluated by the Talking Newspaper Federation (TNF) earlier on in the year. The results have been returned to us and are not as good as we had hoped. While credit was given for the variety of the articles and the reader’s dedication to the publication, there were suggestions for improvement. Before we change anything, we would value the opinions of our listeners. So with this in mind, we will be sending a feedback form to all our listeners asking for their opinion and publish the results in a later newsletter.
Low Vision Drop In Day – April 24: The Blackburn and District Blind Society invite you to our Low Vision Drop In Day. Come along and explore the latest products and technologies presented by our partner suppliers for blind and partially sighted people. There’s no need to book a place, just drop in – leaflet enclosed.
Braille-It: Would you like to learn Braille or do you know someone who is visually impaired who would like to learn? Braille-It delivers free Braille classes in Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Chorley and Accrington. Braille-It has been awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service. For more information on venues and times contact Chris Tattersall on 01200 426063 or visit www.brailleit.wordpress.com .
Large Print Products: including 2018 diaries, wall calendars, academic diaries and desk diaries as well as a full range of other large print items are now available from the Society’s office.
Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service: 1 in every 6 of us may take on a caring role at some time in our lives. Anyone who finds they are have to support a family member through an illness or disability and having to deal with many additional issues can be daunting. Contact Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service, Greenhurst Place, Blackburn, BB2 1NA. Tel 01254 688440 or visit www.bwdcarers.org.uk .
Sliding Doors: Sliding Doors is a local community project that offers social activities and volunteering for people with disabilities, learning disabilities and to those who may feel isolated or lonely. They offer a range of activities for all in a safe and friendly environment. Everyone is welcome to attend any of the sessions. No bookings are needed, except for Saturday cabaret, just go along for a chance to be more social, meet new people, make new friends and have some fun. The Sliding Doors Hub is located in the Mill Hill Community Centre. Contact Julie Astley 07495303224.
Volunteers wanted: Mill Hill Community Centre, Mill Hill Community Centre on New Chapel Street is a busy Volunteer Run centre that needs more volunteers to help prepare rooms and space for community groups. As a volunteer, any time you can give would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested or want some more information, please contact Sue/Fred at the Centre on 01254 673066 or call Geoff Wilkinson at Community CVS on 01254 583957.
You’re Not Losing Your Mind: you’re losing your sight. A Swiss scientist first described visual hallucinations in his grandfather Charles Lullin. However the term “Charles Bonnet Syndrome” was not coined until 1967 by another Swiss scientist, George De Morsier. Visual hallucinations often referred to as Charles Bonnet Syndrome can be frightening and disturbing. The Macular Society has recently published a Twitter Q&A account by Dr John-Paul Taylor from Newcastle University. Unfortunately the article is too large to print here, if you would like the full article please contact the society’s office and we will send it to you. Breaking News, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Esme’s Umbrella to award a £15,000 grant to fund important research into Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS).
Statins and AMD: We know that some things which make age-related macular degeneration (AMD) more likely are also associated with cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease. Given the success of statins in reducing heart disease, and the presence of lipids (fats) in drusen, there is interest in whether they could prevent, reverse, or delay progression of AMD. Mr Praveen Patel, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital is looking to gauge interest in taking part in future research trials looking at the role of statins for the treatment of AMD. Interest will be gauged through a survey. The survey is particularly aimed at those people who have wet AMD in one eye but who have early, dry AMD in the other eye. The results will be used to help guide further research. Contact the BDBS office for details. Source Macular Society.
Living Paintings: Living Paintings makes special versions of pictures with raised surfaces that come to life when fingers feel them. A sound recording directs the fingers over the raised image, describing the features of the picture and telling the stories of the images. We have wonderful interesting books for groups of people to enjoy together at one time. The books are for adults of all ages. We have developed the resources so that adults who are blind and partially sighted are given the opportunity to come together in the community to enjoy the books in a social environment, sharing their interests and stimulating new interests and friendships. The Book Club books contains 2-3 raised images, with 10 copies of each one, a CD with audio description, guidance notes with a copy of the script, plus ideas for running a group session. We also include colour copies of the pictures, for those with some sight. To find out more visit: www.livingpaintings.org/book-clubs. If anyone would like to set up a Club, we can also help with this. Books can be borrowed for up to 3 months and there is no charge at all for this service. Please call Maria on 01635 299771 to find out more.
Microsoft Seeing AI now available in UK: The much anticipated Microsoft Seeing AI app is now available for free from the UK App Store. Designed for the blind and partially sighted community, the app harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects. The app, currently only available on iOS, uses the device’s camera to perform a number of useful functions including: Reading documents with spoken hints.
Identifying a product based on its barcode, recognising people based on their face, recognising images within other apps. Because the app is still a work in progress, there are some features that are considered “experimental”. For more information about the Seeing AI app, please visit the Microsoft website. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/seeing-ai/id999062298?mt=8 : Source NB Online.
New Drug Could Mean Less Frequent Injections: Results from a recent clinical trial suggest that a possible new treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) could control symptoms as effectively as current treatments, with less frequent injections. The late-stage trials have revealed the drug, named brolucizumab, is just as effective at treating wet AMD as Eylea. If approved, brolucizumab would go up against Eylea and Lucentis, two treatments for AMD. The drugs are all injected into the eye. Novartis’ drug would be given once every three months, while Eylea is injected once every eight weeks. Source Macular Society.
Online Today Sessions: Helping people with a sight loss get online. Technology can make life easier if you have hearing or sight problems, but knowing where to start isn’t always easy – we’re here to help. At this session, we can give you the information and knowledge to realise the benefits of being online and understand how it can assist your everyday living. Working with you, we will tell you how to use and make the most of products, such as tablets, smartphones and ereaders. There will also be the opportunity to be hands-on and try out these products and ask questions. These sessions are for you if you have little or no experience of being online, if your skills need updating, or if you have recently acquired sight loss and need to learn new ways to get and stay online. There are limited spaces, so book your place now by calling the Society office on 01254 698683.
Get Your Tax Right: Did you know that RNIB has a Tax Advice Service?
RNIB team of advisers who offer help and support to people with sight loss with issues related to income tax, tax credits, VAT relief and other HMRC issues. They can check if you are eligible for extra tax allowances that can reduce your tax bill or be transferred to your partner to reduce their tax and they can help you to claim these easily over the phone. For example, the Blind Person’s Allowance and the Marriage Allowance. These extra tax allowances are not paid automatically – so make sure you claim them to ensure you’re not paying too much tax. Perhaps you need help with completing a tax form or to register as self-employed. You may want to check if you’re eligible for Tax Credits, inform Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about a change in your circumstances, check your tax code is correct or receive correspondence from HMRC in an alternative format. RNIB works with HMRC’s Extra Support Service, where a team of specially trained advisers can offer a more personalised service to help vulnerable individuals manage their tax and benefit affairs.
Call RNIB’s Tax Advice Service 0345 330 4897 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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For additional copies of this newsletter or for more information about any of the articles, contact Blackburn and District Blind Society,
Unit A – Suite 4 Cobham House, Shadsworth Gateway Estate, Wilkinson Way, Haslingden Road, Blackburn, BB1 2EE
The next newsletter will be in April 2018 – Best wishes for the New Year from all at the Blackburn and District Blind Society